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Australian Overturns 15 Years of Nano-Science Doctrine 79

Roland Piquepaille writes "Dr John Sader, from the University of Melbourne, discovered a design flaw in a key component of the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). He 'used established mechanical principles to prove that the popular V-shaped cantilever inadvertently degrades the performance of the instrument, and delivers none of its intended benefits.' This finding may reshape the industry by proposing a single new standard and because the AFM 'has been the instrument of choice for three dimensional measurements at the atomic scale, since its invention in 1986.' Check this column for more details and an AFM diagram or read the original University of Melbourne's article. You also can visit the 'How AFM works' page."
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Australian Overturns 15 Years of Nano-Science Doctrine

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  • by sketerpot ( 454020 ) <> on Saturday March 08, 2003 @02:37PM (#5467822)
    As far as I know, AFM is good for minute things and it is becoming even more important with the development of nanodrives like IBM's Millipede project. If the design is flawed, does that mean that there will be improvements or that AFM will stop progressing? If there will be improvements from this, it sounds like a good thing. I wonder if this could do anything to help AFM observe and manipulate objects at smaller scales.

    The most exciting thing I can see using AFM is using it in Micro-electro mechanical systems (MEMS), which are pretty much just printed onto a chip like your ordinary integrated circuit. I just want to know: will this help or hinder AFM devices?

  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @02:43PM (#5467852)
    Trying to make an Atomic force microscope seems should be easier than constructing an electron microscope.

    All you need is a laser ,sensors, tip, tip holder(lever).

    Why should these microscopes cost alot ??

  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @02:55PM (#5467908)
    Yes, the microscope is cheap. It's making the really tiny lathes and milling machines cost all the money. You try building a lathe chuck one atom at a time, especially as you need to build in lots of carefully planned dislocations to make it rigid..

    Repeat after me: the smaller the volume of production, the higher the unit cost.

  • by samhalliday ( 653858 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @03:14PM (#5467998) Homepage Journal
    I just want to know: will this help or hinder AFM devices?

    its got to help, right? i mean, the flaw is a flaw in the sense that they were using an un-optimised detector, now ths guy has just said how a different shape will increase performance. I dont know how much i believe him though... i mean, the guy does design and ship these things around the world (see last paragraph of the article), and if he plays his cards right, he will have every user buying tips from HIM this year :-/ me thinks it might be a $$$ scam. but lets hope not, because developments like this (if true) can only help us all out in the long run.

    anyone know what these 'well known mechanical principles' are? i cant see a detialed enough paper on those... if they are 'classical' principles, then this guy is talking out of his arse, as classical mechanics breaks down at this scale. but he is a mathematician, not an engineer, so he will know better (i hope); not knocking engineers or anything... its just you dont get taught quantum mechanics in an engineering profession, but applied mathematicians definitely do.

  • by helix_r ( 134185 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @03:23PM (#5468034)

    V-shaped cantilevers work fine. People can obtain atomic resolution with them. What more could you want?

    I have used both straight and V-shaped. If there is a difference in performance, the difference is mostly likely very small and over-shadowed by other factors.
  • by samhalliday ( 653858 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @03:52PM (#5468179) Homepage Journal
    That's six orders of magnitude larger than the atomic scale

    ok, cool, then this may be a very real observation by the ozzy dude... but, how come orignal users of the device found better results with the V-shape than with a flat top?

  • by mOdQuArK! ( 87332 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @04:07PM (#5468257)
    I heard that they when they started making ATMs, the first tips were "made" by smashing a diamond between two plates of steel, then trying as many of the resultant crystal fragments as possible to see which one gave the best resolution. They "estimated" that the ones which gave the best resolution had a tip with the sharpness of a single atom.
  • by agg123456789 ( 593765 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @04:54PM (#5468481)
    AFMs are being used to do alot more than measure nowadays. This summer I worked on Dip-Pen Nanolithography which uses an AFM like a fountian pen of sorts. It's pretty cool stuff, and if that cantilever is off (the piece which holds the "nub" of the pen) then all of the work done could be rendered incorrect... DPN Information []

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